In the kino video, a large contingent from Destiny emerges from the Stargate. They search through the lush foliage for possible food sources. Collecting what they find, Eli plays taste-tester, taking a bite of one fruit-like plant. He hastily spits it out. Before anyone can sample anything else, Dale Volker vomits and passes out. A moment later, Chloe also faints.
Afraid they may have been infected by something on the planet, Lt. Johansen won't allow anyone to return to Destiny. Fearing it may be bacterial meningitis, she begins administering what little antibiotics they have. Thirty-six hours remain before Destiny will resume her journey, with or without them.
MSgt. Greer locates a number of 4-foot-high, termite-like mounds. He does not find what made them. As night falls, rain begins. By now, Lt. Vanessa James, Dr. Franklin, and Sgt. Marsden are also ill. Adam Brody screams as a creature with squid-like tentacles and a long tail attacks the emcampment from the darkness and burrows into his chest.
Gunfire keeps the creatures at bay long enough for Eli to dial the Stargate. But the event horizon is full of static, suggesting the wormhole is unstable. Destiny doesn't answer on the radio. The creatures break through the gunfire perimeter and one attacks Lt. Scott, but Greer pulls it off before it digs in. Another burrows through Chloe, killing her.
Watching the kino footage of her own grisly death, Chloe vomits. T.J. suggests quarantining Eli, Scott, Greer and Rush in case they brought a contagion back from their own (less eventful) visit to the same planet. She also quarantines anyone who has come in contact with them. Word spreads about the gruesome footage, but no one knows how the kino recorded these images. To their knowledge, they've not been to this jungle planet before now.
In the recording, Eli tapes the kino to a helmet to continue documenting their frightful experience on the planet the next morning (one of Greer's bullets disabled its flight capabilities). With 22 hours left until Destiny resumes F.T.L. flight, they still cannot make a stable wormhole connection. Chloe, James, Marsden, Brody and Sgt. Spencer were killed by the creatures, which the team now sees are nocturnal. Volker, too, died -- but of an unknown cause, not at the hands of the creatures.
Matthew Scott, meanwhile, is unconscious after being stung with the venom of one of the creatures. Greer locates a cave. Making a stretcher, Rush, Franklin, Johansen and Greer transport Scott there. Eli carries their supplies and the little ammo remaining. As T.J. rests, Eli confides that his mother is H.I.V.-positive. His father abandoned them when she was diagnosed. He was 14.
As Rush and Greer mount flashlights on poles, Franklin falls unconscious. In a discussion with Eli about death, Rush reveals a burning desire to learn the secrets of ascension, as the Ancients did.
On the ship in the present, Eli pauses the recording when his version of Chloe faints. Destiny dropped out of F.T.L. flight about three hours ago -- the same amount of time after which the Volker-on-the-recording felt ill. Others who had contact with the kino retrieval team also become sick. Since the Volker on the recording died 12 hours after the first symptoms, the contagion is virulent.
Searching for answers, they resume study of the kino recording. Greer teaches Eli how to shoot an M-4. He also destroys a number of the tall nests with C4. They dial the Stargate again, but the wormhole remains unstable. Only 11 hours remain until Destiny jumps back to F.T.L. flight.
When night falls and the rain begins, the creatures attack in force. Eli keeps recording as guns blaze in the darkness. The flashlights fail, and Eli uses the kino's night vision to spot the advancing wave of creatures. Their ammo is quickly spent, and it is far from enough. Rush runs to the Stargate and dials, and Eli follows him. The wormhole is still unstable, but he dashes into the event horizon anyway -- their only remaining choice. Before he goes, he tells Eli, "For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble." In the present, Colonel Young recognizes it as an allusion to the hopeless ending of the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Everyone in the recording dies horribly -- except for Lt. Scott, who awakens in the cave to find himself the sole survivor of the expedition. Composing himself, he returns to the Stargate. Ironically, he is no longer suffering from the contagion that killed Volker. Venom from the creature's bite apparently cured him. With only 45 minutes left until Destiny moves on, he throws the kino into the still unstable wormhole. It lands next to a dead Rush not on the Destiny, but still on the jungle planet.
Meanwhile, in the present, as non-quarantined people fall ill on the ship, Johansen realizes the disease came from the water recovered from the ice planet a few weeks earlier. Everyone on the ship has been exposed. Rush has an epiphany, and hastily dials the Stargate. The wormhole instability is caused by a solar flare, which sent the kino back in time -- for them to find. If the flare hasn't occurred yet, they might retrieve a creature from the planet and use its venom to cure themselves. Based on the kino time stamp, they have about an hour before the flare. Young, Scott, Greer and Spencer hurry to the planet. It is night time and raining, making the hunt dangerous ... but they cannot wait any longer.
In the infirmary, Eli tries to tell an unconscious Chloe how he feels about her. But it is too late -- T.J. tells him that she is gone. Lt. James, Chloe, Franklin and Volker have all died.
On the planet, the hunting party is attacked by the creatures. All but Scott die horribly. He thinks quickly, grabbing the kino and heading for the gate. He explains the situation into the device, noting that if they send a team during the day they can capture the noctural creatures in their nest. Dialing the Stargate, he fends off another creature with his sidearm and waits for the event horizon to fluctuate -- signaling that the solar flare has started, to create the time loop that will allow this second kino to be retrieved by Destiny's people once again.
"Please believe me," he says. "You don't have much time. Act now, or you are all going to die."
- S. Fetter
Yep, that's how the episode ends. "Time" is not the first of a two-parter; there is no "To Be Continued" at the end. Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (referenced in the episode), the ending leaves viewers to answer the question of what happens to the crew. All the information is there -- a second kino is sent back in time for the crew to find, but this time with more information on what is going on and how to stop it in time.
What's to prevent the same scenario from happening over and over again, so that the hunting party from Destiny doesn't always get caught and massacred by the bugs? This version of the team was pressed to go at night, when it was most dangerous, because their friends were dying all around them. Now Scott has given them a bigger head-start the next time around, so the crew should be able to obtain the creature and its venom and come up with a cure for the disease in time.
Theoretically, if the hunting party did not go during the day or take extreme precautions, Scott's action of resending the kino through the gate (unless he also provided new information the next time) would create a time loop.
In this case, however, there was no time loop occurring -- the characters were not repeating the same actions over and over, a laStargate SG-1's "Window of Opportunity." In the initial timeline (recorded on the kino), a large team visited the planet, fell ill, and was killed off by the bugs before Scott woke up healed of the illness. In the second timeline (prompted by the kino discovery), they sent only the ill-fated hunting party to try and capture the creature for its venom, and fell ill on the ship instead.
In the third timeline (unseen, but assumed), the crew would find one kino (or, more probably, both kinos) sent back in time, learn what had happened and how they had failed to stop it. A hunting party sent during the day could recover the creature safely, and prevent anyone (including Chloe and Lt. James) from dying of the illness.
Kino Webisode #18 serves as a postscript to this episode, though it should be considered promotional material and not necessarily canon. It answers two major questions: First, the team did find both kinos the third time around; and second, they did send a hunting party to capture the creatures during the daytime.
Watch it below:
Rush tells the crew that a wormhole passing through a solar flare can send up sending travelers backward or forward in time -- a phenomenon first seen in the Stargate SG-1 episode "1969," and many times later. In fact, the wormhole doesn't have to actually pass through a solar flare -- just be close enough to one that it is affected by its electromagnetism.
Rush is right that, while usually this effect will cause the traveler to come out at the destination Stargate in the past or the future (as in Stargate: Continuum, for example), in some cases the flare causes the wormhole to bend back upon itself and connect to the same Stargate in another time period. This can be seen in "1969," "2010" (connecting from Earth to Earth), and Atlantis's "The Last Man."
Sometimes when a wormhole is affected by a solar flare, its end point "slides" through time -- so that going through one moment will send you to one point in time, but waiting a few moments will send you to a different point in time. SG-1 experienced this phenomenon while returning home from the year 1969: they entered the wormhole a few moments sooner than they were supposed to, sending them farther into the future than they wanted to go (perhaps 60 years or so, where Cassandra was an old woman) ("1969").
That is apparently not the case here, since the first kino sent back in time lands next to Rush's body -- still dry and not at all decomposed. For all we know, in fact, Rush could have still been alive at that moment.
Most of the time a wormhole has been affected by a solar flare, in fact, it seems to connect stably to a single point in time, and does not slide. There is no evidence of "slippage" in "2010," "The Last Man," or Continuum.
The relatively small amount of water recovered by Colonel Young and Lt. Scott in "Water" contained a microorganism that infected the entire crew with a fatal disease. Though the crew did take measures to purify the water, apparently they were not thorough enough. With the discovery of the second kino (with the more concise message recorded by Scott), they should be able to purify the remaining water supply.
In the second timeline, Dr. Rush finds human remains on the planet, near the Stargate. That skull he holds up would be his own -- indicating that when Rush from the first timeline went through the gate and was sent into the past, he went back far enough for his body and clothing to decompose (dozens, perhaps hundreds of years).
Alternately, it's possible that the remains are those of Lt. Scott from the first timeline. He told the kino recording that he was about to go through the Stargate -- though we never saw if he actually made it through.
It is also likely that Rush didn't survive his exit from the gate, or that he was immediately attacked and killed by the creatures after exiting into the past. He was face down on the ground near the Stargate when the kino arrived and landed next to him, indicating that he had not sought shelter or lived any length of time by himself there.
Dr. Rush seems to have disregarded his own better judgment, which he showed in not telling the away team about the on-board crisis in "Water." Here, he told the hunting party in search of the creature that four crew members had died, including Chloe -- emotionally affecting the team, especially Lt. Scott, in the middle of their mission.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT ELI WALLACE - Eli faced his own death under extreme circumstances, and then in a second timeline watched it all on video. He also faced the prospect of losing Chloe, his best friend, and confessed his true feelings for her on her deathbed -- only to learn that she was already gone. While the first kino recording may carry on into the third timeline (Eli moving forward from this point), however, he would know nothing about Chloe's death and his confession to her.
During the crisis on the planet in the first timeline, Eli confessed the secret behind his mother's health problems: she has H.I.V., as an E.R. nurse to was stuck with a needle while trying to restrain a drug addict. Eli was 14 years old at the time, and his father left them as a result. Eli said that he "couldn't handle it."
Eli's constant use of the kino to record and document the Destiny crew has been vindicated, since this mission recording led directly to the crew's being able to save themselves from certain death.
NICHOLAS RUSH - Rush admitted that he is consumed with the idea of ascension -- the ability to shed the mortal body and transform into pure energy, "a way for consciousness to become immortal." This may be connected to the woman from his past, whose picture he cried over in his quarters on Icarus Base ("Air, Part 1"). Perhaps the woman is dead, driving Nicholas to find a way to cheat death himself. Or perhaps she is still alive, and he believes that ascension is the only way to save her.
Either way, he tells Eli that ascension is the reason he is there. He doesn't seem to be seeking his own immortality, since he tells Eli that while ascension is possible, it may not be possible for the two of them.
This episode includes the song "List of Demands" by Saul Williams, briefly played by Greer while on the planet.
The health problem faced by Eli's mother back on Earth is HIV, which she contracted when she was stuck by a needle trying to retrain a junkie in the E.R. Eli was 14 years old at the time, and remembers his father leaving them as a result.
"Rob has had his hands full, dealing with prep issues, but, in the interim, has been spinning episode #7 in his head. This one promises to be a lot of WTF?! fun." (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"I read the first draft of 'Time' yesterday (Rob apparently wrote it during his free time driving to and from work every day) and it is brilliant. Now 'brilliant' is a word I tend to reserve for works of supreme magnificence like Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus' or my Aunt Fannie's Russian Teacakes, but it applies here to a script that is, without a doubt, the very best of its kind. It's delightfully intricate and thoroughly engaging, full of surprising twists and heart-rending character moments." (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"Before lunch, Carl, Paul, and I headed down to Stage 1 where work is ongoing on the jungle set for 'Time.' It's looking mighty damn impressive. I took plenty of snaps, including a couple of shots of Carl posing beside a giant alien fern." (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"Today, the onset action shifted from Destiny to the jungles of Stage 1. A mighty heavy day but nothing compared to tomorrow when the skies will open up (or, more accurately, we'll MAKE the skies open up) to douse our actors in a torrential downpour. Ivon pointed out that when the rain starts, the temperature in that stage drops by about ten degrees. It's going to get a tad chilly so all of the actors have been fitted with wet suits. For his part, however, actor Jamil Walker Smith is actually looking forward to it, genuinely excited at the prospect of battling the elements. I kid you not. This guy is hardcore!" (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"Well, it was beautiful, sunny and warm outdoors today, but overcast, dark, and rainy indoors. Specifically, I refer to the indoors of Stage 1 where Writer/Executive Producer/Series Creator/Master Chef Robert C. Cooper was directing Mayhem Day on the latest Stargate Universe episode -- 'Time.'" (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"Rob Cooper has been doing a terrific job directing. 'Time' looks fantastic. Quite the trip, this one. Speaking of terrific -- I should make special mention of both David Blue and Brian J. Smith who deliver outstanding performances in this episode. Heartbreaking stuff." (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"The quiet suspense of today's shipboard mystery was in marked contrast to the gloomy, dank, heavy ordnance-laced mayhem of the preceding days. And it's just as well. My teeth are still chattering from the M5 barrage that lit up the shadows of Stage 1 the last time I dropped in. Yes, some delightfully creepy goings-on in 'Time' (a Robert C. Cooper joint that completed shooting yesterday) that will no doubt look all the more delightful and creepy once the episode is finished.
"By all indications, the cast enjoyed themselves immensely -- particularly actor Jamil Walker Smith who was reveling in the cold, wet, and muddy conditions. Now, we shift focus from the dark and dangerous alien environment of 'Time' to the shocking discovery and troubling developments presented in 'Justice.'" (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"After lunch today, we sat down and watched the director's cut of 'Time.' Hoowee! What a ride! Great script, great direction, and great performances all around make this one of the stand-out episodes of what has thus far been an overwhelmingly solid first season line-up. A special shout-out to David Blue (who wasn't on set when I swung by this afternoon to congratulate the actors on a job well done) for a performance at turns humorous, commanding, and touching. And, of course, an extra-special congrats to Robert C. Cooper who wrote, directed, and produced the episode." (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"[The show] is much more character-driven, much more of a drama. Survival is the main thing. ... There's two or three deaths, in fact, in the first three episodes, and a suicide by episode six. So this is a harsh world." (Actor Robert Carlyle, in an interview with IGN.com [SCI FI advertising upfront])
Since this suicide has not occurred as of "Earth," we're speculating that Carlyle may have had all three hours of "Air" in mind as a single episode -- making "episode six" actually episode eight. Just when the suicide will occur, however, is uncertain. Carlyle also told Multichannel News at the same media event that the suicide might occur in episode five. Neither episode had been filmed at the time.
"We do all die. ... It's a very interesting episode written by Robert Cooper called 'Time,' where they go to another planet, and when they get there, they find one of these alien balls. They find footage on it, and they are all dying on it. And that's where the teaser ends." (Actor Robert Carlyle, in an interview with io9)
"The third episode in my personal Triumvirate of Terrificness [with 'Divided' and 'Life'] is 'Time' (Episode #9) -- a Rob Cooper Joint. Freaky, fun, and very clever. More than any other episode (outside of our premiere of course), I anxiously await the fan reaction to this one." (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"We all sat down (or rather remained seated) to watch a Day 1 Mix of 'Time' (a Rob Cooper joint) complete with creepy-as-hell visual effects (kudos to Mark Savela and his team). How creepy? Well, there's one point in the action that always sends Ashleigh scurrying off down the corridor in horror. Mission accomplished! 'Time' has the look and feel of a big screen feature and stands as my favorite episode of the season. So far." (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"To those asking, 'When are we going to have our next alien encounter?' -- be careful what you wish for because this episode provides the answer in creepy, mind-bending style. As producer on the show, I watch the individual episodes so many [times] I'm honestly well weary of them by the time that final mix comes around. 'Time,' however, is an exception. This is one of those rare episodes I'll actually watch when it airs. Fantastic -- but not for the faint of heart or weak of mind. As my second grade teacher Mrs. Vowels used to say: 'Put on your thinking caps' because this one could bruise your brain." (Consulting producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"My favorite episode of the first half is 'Time.' I think it stands out. Everyone brought their best game to the table in that episode and it shows. As far as Eli and Chloe are concerned, you never know where the writers may take the relationship, but I think it's a stronger choice to not have them get together because once you cross that bridge, there's no turning back. There's something enticing about not giving the audience what they want and I think the constant desire to see these two together will keep certain fans tuning in!" (Actress Elyse Levesque, in a Q&A at Joseph Mallozzi's blog)
"'Time' is probably my favorite episode. Rob Cooper misled me, however, before I read the script saying it would be an easy one to edit. He said it would be a series of single shot scenes that I would just have to string together. Well, it turned out to be a bit more complicated than that.
"He and I discussed while he was shooting the idea that the 'fritzing' Kino footage could jump in time as well as between performances with carefully chosen edit points within the glitches. An idea I had was that the Kino should not only fritz forward but it should have small jumps in time backwards as well. If you watch the opening scene you can see the Kino image of our team walking down the ramp from the gate and small time jumps both forward and back as a subtle hint to what lays ahead in the episode.
"The 'What the ...' act-out was great. Robert wrote it to be cut off like that but he had David Blue actually say the real sentence 'What the F@#%!' with the idea that it would feel more authentic than if David cut himself off. The fun part was sitting in the cutting room listening to and comparing the dozen or so takes trying to pick the funniest, most realistic one.
"Also, it is probably the only episode I'll ever work on that features footage shot with a camera stuck on top of a character's head." (Editor Mike Banas, in a Q&A at Joseph Mallozzi's blog)
"I remember sitting in the makeup trailer reading 'Time,' the kind of Groundhog Day episode where we find the kino feed, where I die twice in it. I remember reading it and flipping through a random page and finding one that said something like, 'Volker died first then Brody.' I panicked and called up Peter Kelamis and said, 'That's it, were unemployed, we're both dead.' Of course I should have read to the end of the script. But yes, I died a couple of times there." ("Dale Volker" actor Patrick Gilmore, in an interview with MediaBlvd Magazine)